As Thai Intel have said it before, the Amnesty Bill, is just a tool by the Abhisit Dems to topple Yingluck.
- The following is from the New York Times:
With thousands of antigovernment protesters in the streets of Bangkok on Monday, Thailand’s opposition announced a campaign of civil disobedience, including a three-day general strike later this week and a call for businesses to delay paying their taxes.
The protests against the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra signaled a return to the fractious and volatile politics that destabilized Thailand several years ago. At least four large demonstrations were held simultaneously across Bangkok on Monday, closing schools and stoking fears of clashes between rival groups.
“I would like to urge all Thais to fight with the people so that a great, absolute and sustainable victory belongs to Thailand,” Suthep Thaugsuban, a protest leader and senior member of the opposition Democrat Party, told a crowd of thousands on Monday.
It was not yet clear late on Monday evening whether his call for a general strike Wednesday through Friday would be widely heeded.
The initial spark for the protests, which began a week ago, was an amnesty bill proposed by the government that would have eased the return of Thaksin Shinawatra, a polarizing figure who was ousted as prime minister in a 2006 military coup. The lower house of Parliament passed the bill earlier this month, but the Senate decisively rejected it on Monday.
“The opposition to the amnesty bill has been deep and wide,” said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, director of the Institute of Security and International Studies at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. “It has now escalated into an effort to overthrow the government.”
The protests have rattled the government of Ms. Yingluck, Mr. Thaksin’s sister. The prime minister has said repeatedly that if the amnesty bill is defeated, it will not be considered in Parliament again, and she has pleaded with protesters to stop their demonstrations.
The bill initially angered many of the governing party’s supporters, known as the red shirts, because along with pardoning Mr. Thaksin in the corruption cases he faces, it would have offered amnesty to those responsible for the bloody crackdown on his followers in 2010. But the majority of red shirts appeared to have swung back to the government’s side, and they staged their own rally with tens of thousands of people on Sunday and another in northeastern Thailand on Monday.
Thai politics, which until recently had enjoyed relative calm under Ms. Yingluck’s more than two years in office, appear to have returned to the polarized and unpredictable deadlock between opponents and supporters of Mr. Thaksin.
One of Mr. Thaksin’s main rivals, Sondhi Limthongkul, described the political conflict on Monday as a battle of good and evil. In a measure of the frustration with Thailand’s political problems, he repeated a call to return political power to Thailand’s king. “I think Thailand must suspend the role of politicians for at least two to three years,” he said. He asserted that Mr. Thaksin was exercising power from abroad, including deciding who got major appointments in the government.
Mr. Thaksin, the de facto leader of the governing party, Pheu Thai, has been weakened by the amnesty controversy, Mr. Thitinan said. But Pheu Thai retained strong support, especially in northeastern Thailand, where a third of the electorate lives, Mr. Thitinan said.
Mr. Thaksin is “farther away than ever from coming home,” Mr. Thitinan said. “But the avenues to his return are not totally closed.”
Poypiti Amatatham contributed reporting.
- The following is in part, from Asian Correspondent: (Source)
There is not much to be exposed for the opposition party, the Democrats, for they have made it clear what they want—to get rid of the government by any means necessary, including extra-parliamentary and undemocratic means. But some things that the Democrat leaders have said in the past few days confirm that truth and reconciliation is just a concept with no practical use.
No more pretense for the rule of law, Suthep told his supporters it was up to them to judge what to do with the tyrants—Thaksin and Yingluck. Suthep’s announced plan for a “people’s court” to be set up on the street today shows the disdain for constitutional provisions establishing the Thai legal system. Given the high level of emotions that is a minor detail. To heighten the frenzy of distrust and hatred further Suthep has also said (without providing sources or evidence to back the claim) the government is plotting to use snipers on him and the Democrat protesters. And perhaps in response to many chuckles at him leading a protest against corruption, he has ensured his party’s supporters that he “never cheated” in his political life. (Surely he has never lied either.)
The words of the Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva spoken on the rally stage last night show that he exists in an alternate reality. “If there is even one dead protester, don’t even hope to continue living in this land, the whole [Shinawatra] clan!,” shouted the former prime minister who presided over and refused to take any responsibility for the protest crackdowns that left over 90 people dead in 2010. Perhaps Abhisit believed Suthep’s tale that the protesters “ran into bullets,” despite court findings of at least some deaths at the hand of security forces.
The beautifully organized whistle-blowing flash mobs started out with a “No to Blanket Amnesty” slogan but the loud shouts quickly turned into “Get out.” It’s transparent behind the kill-bill whistles and lunch-time photo-ops lies more hatred for one man than a care for democracy and justice for all. The anti-amnesty whistle-blowers are photogenic, but listening more closely their words one realizes appearances of intelligence and education can be deceptive. Inside the elevated mood of the street demonstrators festers an elevated sense of self-righteousness, shallow slogans, and nauseating narcissism.
The whistle blowing protesters have been telling each other and anyone who would listen that theirs is a protest by “good people,” “not brutes.” “We are rich and educated,” they said, not tools of corrupt politicians (like the poor, uneducated, not-good, uncouth people on the other side). Some put their thoughts onto personal placards to make sure the world knows: “I am not hired because my salary is big,” “my family is rich,” etc. As though being rich, privileged, well-groomed and well-dressed with a monthly salary were requirements for justice and democracy.
Scratch the surface of this inflated self-image and find the contempt for the opposite of “us.” Parallel to the pathological obsession with Thaksin’s evils is the glaring omission of the evils of those on their side, and the loss—deaths and suffering—of the fellow women and men on the other side. Within their black and white, self-absorbed world, there is no room for empathy.
“Chulalongkorn students holding a protest banner: “[The ones who cheated, who killed, who burned, gave themselves an amnesty.”
The so-called guardians of democracy have shown their true colors too in bright neon especially on Sunday, when the group of appointed Senators boycotted the senate meeting to deliberate the bill, although doing so would help solve the problem according to the rules of parliamentary democracy and calm down the situation. But that apparently was not their role.
Rosana Tositrakul, a key member the Group of 40 Senators, said the group refused to attend the meeting because the amnesty bill was “the government’s problem,” not the Senate’s “burden.” Shortly after she told the press that the situation has already “gone beyond amnesty bill”, calling the government to dissolve parliament, echoing calls by some supporters of the opposition. This foot dragging coincided with Suthep’s plan to keep the anti-government/amnesty protests going strong until Monday evening for the much awaited ruling on Preah Vihear by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on late Monday, which is expected or hoped to be add more fuel to the anti-government fire.
Many institutional anti-amnesty groups’ swift and loud condemnation of Pheu Thai’s ill-conceived amnesty bill is a stark contrast to their deafening silence when the coup makers gave themselves a complete amnesty written in the Constitution (Article 309). In fact, some behind their institutions’ stance against the amnesty were drafting committee of the post-coup Constitution. The fact that Thammasat University students were holding a protest banner calling for military cadets to join them in protest suggests that a course on irony ought to be required at the university.
Thammasat University students holding a protest banner: “Yellow-Red (Thammasat) are here. Where are Red-Yellow (Military Cadet Academy)? (The colors here refer to institutional colors, not political colors.)
Youthful ignorance and bias can be easily forgiven, but in esteemed adults the ignorance and bias injures credibility. That 63 judges actually signed a public petition against a proposed law pending in the legislature was staggering. It shows just how Thai judiciary still has a long way to go before it can expect judicial impartiality. And what with the former foreign minister and ASEAN secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan comparing the Pheu Thai government to the Hitler dictatorship? One would have thought a person of his experience and stature would know better than that.
- Escalating Protests in Bangkok Raise Fears of Clashes – New York Times (nytimes.com)
- Amnesty Bill Stirs A Hornet’s Nest! Here is the fact sheet (thaishortnews.wordpress.com)
- Escalating Protests in Bangkok Raise Fears of Clashes (nytimes.com)
- The Shinawatra Family & The Red Shirts Relationship? Here is the fact sheet! (thaishortnews.wordpress.com)
- Yingluck’s “Bold Goals” to bring Democracy, Reconciliation & Populous Policy to Thailand is worth supporting (thaishortnews.wordpress.com)